12:03 AM – Part I

Woohoo, another prompt post! For this story, I am touching on the prompt It’s all fun and games until… at VSS.

This story may be a little familiar to those who read my main story Those Among Us, but I have changed some things around a bit to make things interesting. 🙂

I should have brought a flashlight.

And a jacket, too. It was surprisingly cold and dark in the area for mid-summer. The wind dipped low and nipped at my ankles like one of those annoying teacup dogs. Most would have taken this for some instance of the supernatural, but I took the logical route and deduced the drop in temperature was due to the overabundance of trees and flora in the area. It was the only rational explanation.

The clearing I was searching for had to be around somewhere, hidden deep amongst the weeds and moss-covered trees. It was the juncture to a very peculiar pair of crossroads. A local legend said the right road led to an area where witches once practiced their craft and the left one led to a portal to Hell itself. It was the perfect place for evildoings, and in my case, for making a deal with the Devil himself.

It was a crazy goal, and one I wasn’t sure I believed in. My wife wouldn’t let me hear the end of it. Her longwinded prattle about not messing with the underworld, eternal damnation, and other religious mumbo-jumbo nearly made me pull what little hair I had out. She finally conceded after a while and promised to pray for me until I returned home.

I didn’t expect anything to come of it. At the very least, I would have some interesting elements to craft into a short story.

But there was nothing interesting about this experience, unless pain was the only element needed to make a great story. Thorns dug into my legs and mosquitoes swarmed my face as I pushed through the overgrowth, causing me to add ‘a pair of pants’ and ‘bug spray’ to the mental list of things I wish I would have brought with me. A thick and gnarled root jutted out from the bushes and I tripped over it, falling to the ground below. A sharp pain radiated from my right knee and upon further inspection, I discovered I had a nasty scrape.

It didn’t take long before I finally reached the clearing. According to the first rule of the legend, I had to be there by 12:00 AM, but when I checked my watch, I discovered it was 12:03 AM. It didn’t look too good on my behalf, but I was sure good ole’ Lucifer would give me a three minute grace period after what I had experienced.

I dropped my bag on the ground and took a look around. The clearing itself was smaller than imagined, lined with weeds and overgrown bushes. Three cream-colored candles were arranged in a wide triangle, the wicks brand new. It was like someone placed them out there for me.

The twin dirt roads were thin, scraggly and dimly lit by small torches on each side. Near the end of the right road, I could see the silhouette of a large house looming ominously in the distance, but all I saw down the left road was an inky, black darkness that made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.

A few feet from the edge of the right road was a large pond brimming with lily pads. I felt like stopping there to wash the dirt out of my injured knee, but there were more important things to tend to.

The first part of the second rule stated that the person had to light the three candles in the clearing. I dug in my bag and found the fresh pack of matches I bought just for this night. Every time I struck a match; a swift wind snuffed out the flame just before I could light a candle. I easily wore out my supply of matches and worked my way down to the last one. When I struck the final match, the flame nearly jumped off the head and I quickly lit all three candles before the winds came again to extinguish it. The warm fires bathed my hands in a delicate yellow light.

The second part of the second rule stated the person had to leave an offering directly related to what was asked for. It was an easy choice. I pulled out a hardbound book from my bag and set it in the middle of the candlelit triangle. It was my latest submitted manuscript, a novel about young married couple raising a toddler son. It was a direct parallel of my own life.

The third rule stated the person must state their desire out loud. It was the hardest step so far. What could be said to convince a creature that has been hyped up by religious zealots for thousands of years?

“My name is Adam Watson and I want to become a bestselling author.” My voice fought against the swirling wind and the sound of crickets chirping in the distance. “I want all of my work to be accepted by the masses and critics with open arms. Take what you want to grant it.”

As soon as I finished, the winds picked up and extinguished the two candles at the base of the triangle. The trees seemed to come alive and swayed to and fro in the strong gust, letting loose a torrent of falling green leaves. I knelt down and pulled the remaining lit candle from its place at the top of the triangle to take with me. If the Devil was so powerful, he could see my offering without needing any sort of lighted guide. I needed something to help navigate through the dark road ahead.

The third rule stated the person must wait at the house at the end of the right road until 3:00 AM. Did the Devil have to take nearly three hours to decide whether he wanted to make a deal or not? Was he that senile after millions of years?

The right path was dotted with broken glass, discarded items and freshly strewn leaves. My knee was nearly livid with pain as I slowly limped down the road, making sure I avoided any obstacles that could injure me further.

As I approached, the dilapidated state of the home became apparent. Wide bands of white paint were stripped from the exterior wood panels and many shingles were missing from the hole-laden roof, exposing decaying wood beneath. The many windows were all boarded up–some from the outside and some from within–and were covered with signs warning others to not trespass.

Personal artifacts and furniture long past its prime were propped outside on the walls, nearly hidden in the tall grass. And there was a smell of old and festering decay, of wet wood and moldy cloth, oozing from every rotting inch.

The house looked like a representation of the Devil himself; it could swallow me whole and spit me out through one of the thin cracks in the windows.

And I was afraid to enter.


8 Responses to “12:03 AM – Part I”

  1. 1 mostdiabolicalpersona June 12, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    The suspect is great! 🙂 Looking forward to the second part.

  2. 3 moondaisy101 June 14, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    Very interesting. I really like your pictures too, but one could almost read it without it… I’m very much looking forward to find out what will happen next! 🙂

  3. 5 thelunarfox June 16, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    I agree with Moondaisy. You can almost read this without the pictures, but I don’t wanna. You really got some good shots here.

    Also, I love that the whole time he’s looking down on this myth even as he’s performing it, and then at the very end he’s terrified to enter the house!

    That house looks amazing! Did you make/decorate it?

    • 6 lhasa June 16, 2010 at 4:46 pm

      It was my intention to make the story ‘readable’ without the pictures, so I’m really happy people are taking notice.

      Adam is (was) a really peculiar guy. He hates admitting that he at least shares some belief in the things he scorns.

      Ooh, thank you! I designed the house and added all of the decor myself. It really is a step up from the house I made for TAU’s prologue. 😛

  4. 7 tesseracta June 17, 2010 at 4:48 am

    I enjoyed reading this very much, and am looking forward to the next part.

    You have very descriptive prose. Your beautiful and well-composed screenshots complement the story, creating a frightening and suspenseful atmosphere.

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